More than 100 UK festivals have pledged to combat sexual abuse, including Parklife and Boardmasters.
The festivals have promised to follow a survivor-led approach and aggressively investigate all complaints.
According to research, sexual violence is a “common occurrence for festival attendees—especially for women” and is “frequently minimised or overlooked,” according to Dr Hannah Bows of Durham University.
The move, according to the criminal law expert, is an “essential first step.”
According to a YouGov survey from 2018, nearly half of female festival-goers under 40 have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at a music festival.
Dr Bows, an associate professor of criminal law, said that despite rape and sexual assault incidents “hitting the news each summer,” festivals have paid little attention to the issue.
To address bigger concerns of misogyny and sexism, she said all festivals must “recognise their duty” and “promote a culture change.”
Rape Crisis England and Wales, Good Night Out, and Safe Gigs For Women are among the organisations that have contributed to the campaign, which was first introduced in 2017.
She believes they have the right to know that event personnel are “prepared” to handle reports and that festivals take a “proactive approach” to preventing sexual assault.
More broadly than festivals, police in England and Wales registered 63,136 rape offences in the year ending September 2021, the highest annual amount ever recorded.
Only 1,557 prosecutions were filed, compared to 2,102 the previous year.
The AIF’s Safer Spaces At Festivals initiative also commits participating festivals to offer health information and linkages to local agencies, as well as supporting the notion of consent.
“Festivals are microcosms of society, and sexual violence is a persistent problem in our society,” said AIF’s Phoebe Rodwell.
She explained that because “knowledge and techniques” to address these concerns change “all the time,” it was critical to renew the campaign to assist festival organisers in “fulfilling their duty of care at events.”